printer usage monitoring

Printing waste is out of control in most businesses. There are lots of stats out there: companies typically spend up to 3% of revenue on printing. Employees are printing 10,000 pages or more every year. Much of that printing is unnecessary. According to a survey of small businesses, 47 percent report that employees printing email was a big part of their print usage.

Since you’re reading this, you are probably trying to figure out how to reduce that waste and save money. Printer usage monitoring is a great way to do that. In this post, we’ll cover both WHY and HOW to monitor printer usage.

First, the why.

The truth is, if you’re not auditing printer & copier usage, you’re leaving money on the table.

Before we get into the solution, here’s how to tell if you’re spending too much on printing. If you are, you definitely should consider printer usage monitoring.

3 signs you’re wasting LOTS of money on printing

1. You have lots of desktop inkjet printers.

It’s easy to understand why this happens. People don’t want to walk over to the shared multifunction copier to pick up their documents. Or, they are worried about printing confidential documents on a shared device. So they get an inexpensive inkjet printer on their desk.

The problem is, desktop printers cost you a fortune in supplies. It can easily cost 10 times as much to print on an inkjet device as it does to print on a modern shared copier. And that doesn’t even factor in the cost of service and support.

Also, as those printers break and get replaced, you end up with a closet full of useless ink cartridges that don’t work with the new printers. That’s more wasted money.

When you implement printer usage monitoring, you’ll see exactly how much those desktop printers are costing you. Replacing them with a modern copier can save you quite a bit of money.

TIP: There are convenience and security features available now that can overcome all your employees’ concerns about using shared printers. (We’ll explain more about that in the next section.)

2. You go through a ton of color ink and toner.

This applies to both desktop printers and your shared copiers. Do you know how much cheaper it is to print in black and white? Do your employees know?

For a modern copier, the cost to print a black and white page is less than a penny. A color page costs at least 5 times more. Chances are, the color is not important for most of those printed pages.

With printer usage monitoring, you can find out where the waste is happening and take steps to change how people print.

3. You recycle (or throw away) lots of paper.

In many offices, you’ll find stacks of abandoned print jobs left at every copier. Hopefully you’re recycling all that wasted paper!

People print documents (often ones they don’t really need… like emails), then forget to pick them up. By the time they remember, someone has dumped their print job in the bin. So they print again. All that waste is expensive, and it’s not only the cost of the paper. You’re paying for the toner. And also paying a monthly fee for a service contract that’s based on print volume.

Once again, printer usage monitoring can help you change all that, by identifying where the waste is happening. Armed with that knowledge, you can significantly reduce costs.

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And now for the important part: how to monitor printer usage.

Printer usage monitoring: 5 steps to take control of printing costs

The good news is, it’s not expensive to set up printer usage monitoring. Or to make the changes that reduce your printing costs. All you need is printer usage tracking software such as Canon’s uniFLOW or Papercut, which works with all your printer and copier brands.

These are the steps to cutting your unnecessary print spending and adding that savings back to your bottom line.

1. Set up printer usage monitoring.

Before you can correct the printing behavior in your office to save money, you need to understand where the waste is. Using a printer usage monitoring application such as uniFLOW or Papercut, begin by collecting information about each of your departments or employees. You’ll be able to see who prints what type of documents, which printers they use (desktop or copier) and if they print in color or black and white.

2. Share your findings.

The printer usage monitoring application allows you to create reports by group or individual person. You can then share those reports, which is where things get interesting.

First of all, you’ll be amazed at how quickly people change their behavior when they know you’re watching.

You can also take things a step further by setting up competitions between employees or departments, and give incentives to those who reduce their print usage the most.

3. Set up printing rules and reminders.

Using the same software you used to set up printer usage monitoring, you can also set up printing rules for your office, based on what you learn from print monitoring. Such as:

  • Don’t print email unless you really need to.
  • Print spreadsheets in black and white (which usually don’t need color).
  • Print big jobs on the less-expensive copiers instead of desktop printers.

You can make these rules change the print defaults, but also give people the option to override them if they really need to. Or, you just just show alerts if someone is about to print from Outlook, or print a large document to a desktop printer.

Learn more: Rules-Based Print Routing: The Easy Way to Cut Office Print Costs

4. Set up secure printing for every employee.

What is secure print? It allows you to track printer usage by user. Every employee has a code or a swipe card that they use to access print jobs at the copier. When they send a print job, it’s not released until they do so. That eliminates those piles of unclaimed print jobs.

It also solves the problem of printing sensitive information to a shared printer, because print jobs are never left unattended on the printer.

Learn more: Office Manager’s Guide to Secure Document Printing

5. Charge back for printing expenses

Bigger companies often choose to extend this process further by actually charging departments for their print costs. You can use printer usage monitoring to track expenses, then charge back each department for their printer and copier usage. Those costs come out of the department’s budget.

Doing charge-backs can be an effective way to reduce print usage even for smaller companies. Knowing you’re being watched will change behavior, but knowing you’re paying for it can be an even bigger motivator.

This feature is also useful for companies that charge their external clients for print usage, such as law firms and financial services firms.

Here at Superior Office Systems, we’ve helped countless NYC-area businesses achieve big savings using this process, also known as managed print. Read these case study article to learn more: Managed Printing Saves Thousands on Office Print Costs

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